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UN refugee chief calls for greater support for Somali refugees in Yemen

UN refugee chief calls for greater support for Somali refugees in Yemen

High Commissioner Guterres meets a family that recently arrived in Yemen from Somalia
The top United Nations refugee official, beginning a five-day visit to Yemen, today called on the international community to bolster its assistance to Somali refugees who have reached the Middle East country after making the perilous crossing of the Gulf of Aden.

António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), toured Kharaz refugee camp, located about 140 kilometres west of the city of Aden, and met with both refugees and officials, the agency reported.

Kharaz is currently home to about 10,500 people, mainly from Somalia and in search of a better life. In total, more than 18,000 Somalis have reached Yemen this year alone after crossing the Gulf of Aden, where they are at risk of drowning from the hazardous sea conditions and from attacks by the unscrupulous people who pilot the often dilapidated boats. About 400 people are estimated to have died on the journey this season.

“It is impossible to come to Kharaz camp without feeling something very strong about the plight of Somali refugees,” Mr. Guterres said. “Many of them have been living in these conditions for 16 years and unfortunately the outflow is growing.”

The High Commissioner called on the international community to step up its assistance so that UNHCR and the Yemeni Government, which he said had been “extremely generous” in receiving the Somali refugees, can provide greater support.

During his visit to Yemen Mr. Guterres is scheduled to also tour UNHCR offices in Aden and Sana’a, the capital, and inspect UNHCR reception centres along the country’s

southern coast.

On Monday and Tuesday, he will attend a regional conference on refugee protection and international migration that is being held in Sana’a.